Elvis and the Gil Hibben Knife

The Hibben Karate Master shown at bottom here is the updated version of the knife Gil Hibben made for Elvis Presley in 1974. (United photo)

The knife Gil Hibben made for Elvis Presley in 1974 lives on today in the “Hibben Karate Master” reproduction (shown at bottom above) from United Cutlery. (United photo)

What better day to celebrate the custom knife BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-FameĀ© member Gil Hibben presented to Elvis Presley than on The King’s birthday?

Today is Presley’s birthday and a reminder of when Hibben and Phil Lobred, coordinator of the Art Knife Invitational, visited Presley 40 years ago.

It was also when Hibben presented Presley with a handmade Hibben knife.

Both Hibben and Presley were practitioners of Kenpo karate. In 1974, Gil and Phil attended a Kenpo tournament in Los Angeles. While there, they stayed with Ed Parker, founder of the Kenpo system. Parker had one of the early custom Hibben Kenpo knives which, at the time, Gil called the Ed Parker Knife. It occurred to Parker that Elvis, who had a second home in L.A. and was a karate student of Parker’s, might be interested in the Hibben knife. Plus, presenting the knife to Elvis could be a way to get Gil and Phil in to see the King.

Parker made the arrangements and Gil and Phil were at Presley’s L.A. home. When the knife was presented to Elvis, the King was extremely pleased. “He was like a kid with a new toy,” Lobred recalled. Presley went upstairs and returned with a gold Omega watch and presented it to Hibben in return. In all, Gil and Phil got to hang out with the King and Co. for about six hours.

As for whatever happened to the knife presented to Presley, Hibben said no one knows for sure. “It’s not at Graceland,” Gil noted. Maybe one day it will turn up. If it does, Hibben said he will know it on sight.

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